Mark Thompson

Mark Thompson

Director, Consulting Services

The future of energy services will be full of new technology and constant digital innovation, including the effective use of data to meet ever-rising customer expectations. One could argue that systems integration expertise for dealing with increasingly large volumes of data will be more necessary than ever.

At the pace emerging technology is growing, utilities need to bring these technologies together in the most effective way to advance their digital progress. More importantly, they need expert guidance based on deep industry knowledge to help them make the best technology choices for their needs. For example, while robotic process automation (RPA) can be used to automate many industry processes, how do utilities ensure they automate the right processes rather than just use “tech for tech’s sake”? Expert guidance can help utilities avoid the common mistake of automating a bad process instead of fixing any underlying problem first, and then optimizing the process by applying RPA.

Meeting expectations for personalized service

In our CGI Client Global Insights interviews this year, utilities executives say that becoming digital organizations to meet customer expectations and grow is their second most impactful trend (behind assuring regulatory compliance and preparing for new market mechanisms). 

Some of the best customer experiences we enjoy in everyday life feature personalization based on data used at the right time and in the right way. For example: ride hailing services that know where we are, where we want to go, and have secure access to our payment information; online retailers that provide personalized offerings and update our order progress through email, text and voice mail; and sports news apps that know our favorite teams and keep us up-to-date via our channel of choice. 

Utilities have a way to go before they can achieve this same level of personalized service, but given the kind of data that is already available to them, there is no reason why they can’t provide a uniquely tailored experience for every single customer. 

To demonstrate this, a few months ago, when people could still meet in person, CGI brought together members of the UK energy community for an innovation workshop with some of our key technology partners. Working closely with Vlocity (a Salesforce company), Amazon Web Services (AWS), Ordo (Fintech) and Electralink, we demonstrated how making the best use of data can drive key customer experiences across marketing, sales and services. The uses cases included:

  • A personalized customer experience using granular data from a smart meter to provide recommendations on products and services, such as the detection of electric vehicle (EV) and specific Time of Use (ToU) tariffs
  • Friction-free payments using Ordo open banking technology to allow energy retailers to help customers pay bills at a time convenient for their cash flow and without holding or taking card details
  • Digital contact center integration with CRM account information to reduce the cost of operations and improve the customer experience

These types of experiences are already widespread in the consumer retail sector; but as the energy sector may be lagging behind, there is a great opportunity to make a step change to benefit both business and customers. 

Data and technology are critical to advancing a utility’s digital transformation, but choices and uses must be relevant for the industry and deliver value. As utilities look to provide better customer service during the pandemic and simultaneously respond to increased competition, industry leaders will need to rethink their current approaches, look beyond their current operations, and increase the speed of change while ensuring operational stability. 

At the heart of the energy market since its inception, CGI delivers technological innovation on a number of fronts, including balancing and energy settlement for England’s non-household water retail market and supporting the implementation of millions of Linky smart meters in France, as examples. We work within areas of great change, such as the UK Office of Gas and Electricity Market’s (Ofgem’s) smart market program around flexibility and faster switching. We also are delivering a centralized information exchange for Finland’s electricity retail market

Please reach out to me for more information on how CGI combines unique industry insight with best-in-class technologies to help our clients achieve customer excellence, driven by data insight.

About this author

Mark Thompson

Mark Thompson

Director, Consulting Services

Mark has worked in the utilities industry for 25 years across a range of major organizations in the UK and overseas. He has been at the heart of the UK energy industry working across many roles in energy networks, central systems, traditional and smart metering ...